Life has always been a struggle for Native Americans. The Missionary Servants who have lived and worked alongside the Tohono O’Odham Nation and the Yaqui people agree that they are some of the most enthusiastic, dedicated, and loving Catholics they have been called to serve.
At the request of the Bishop, we came to South Tucson in 1983 to take over the pastoral care of St. Nicholas Indian Center. A year later, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha parish was established as a “personal parish” for the Native Americans in South Tucson and its environs. Besides the main church in town, there are six chapels under the parish’s care.
The ancestors of the Yaqui and Tohono O’Odham were evangelized by the early Jesuit missionaries when Arizona was part of Mexico, so their Catholic roots run deep. Our missionaries have engaged the native culture in various ways in order to deepen their understanding of their Catholic faith and to make it a more integral part of their native spirituality. Religious services and festivities in the parish are a wonderful combination of both Catholic and Native American customs.